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Biden cleared by Congress as next US president

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(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)

Democrat Joe Biden has been cleared by Congress to be sworn in as the next US president on January 20.

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence declared that Congress had confirmed the Electoral College tally of states’ results that showed Biden the winner of the November 3 contest against incumbent President Donald Trump.

Shortly after Pence’s declaration, Trump released a statement saying, “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”

US lawmakers reconvened on Wednesday evening to certify the electoral college votes, after the session was interrupted earlier in the day by rioters who stormed the Capitol building.

Four were reported dead in the riots.

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New US president tells Americans ‘we will get through this together’

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Joe Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th President on Wednesday in Washington DC.

Biden will preside over a deeply polarized electorate, with millions of voters still believing defeated Trump’s false claims of election fraud, and a divided Congress, where gridlock looms as the default and success will come only by compromise, Reuters reported.

Few presidents have taken power in circumstances such as these: a still-raging pandemic claiming lives, a continuing threat of armed insurrection and a defiant former president who faces a Senate trial charged with encouraging an attack on his country’s capital.

Speaking at his inauguration, Biden said:” “We will get through this together! Together!.

He said the world is watching today and that America has been tested but it has come out stronger for it.

He also said the US will lead by the power of example.

He also called for a moment of silence for all those who died from COVID-19 in the past year.

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Iran’s president urges Biden to return to 2015 nuclear deal

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged US President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday to return to a 2015 nuclear deal and lift crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, has said the United States will rejoin the pact that includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work if Tehran resumes strict compliance, Reuters reported.

Rouhani said on Wednesday in a televised cabinet meeting that “the ball is in the US court now. If Washington returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact.”

“Today, we expect the incoming US administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years,” he said.

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018 when US President Donald Trump exited the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear program and prevent it from developing atomic weapons. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran, which denies ever seeking nuclear arms, retaliated to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy by gradually breaching the accord. Tehran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if US sanctions are removed.

Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, said at his Senate hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration feels the world was safer with the nuclear deal in place.

“President-elect Biden is committed to the proposition that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said. 

“And we share, I know, that goal across this committee, an Iran with a nuclear weapon or on the threshold of having one with the capacity to build one on short order would be in Iran that is even more dangerous than it already is.”

Rouhani meanwhile stated on Wednesday that “US President Donald Trump’s political career is over today and his ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran has completely failed.” 

“Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive,” Rouhani said. 

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Washington a ‘ghost town’ ahead of Biden’s inauguration

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)
Central Washington is an armed fortress, fenced off with razor wire and surrounded by 25,000 National Guard troops ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, a stark contrast to previous inaugurations, when the United States capital erupted in days of celebration.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic had already canceled the inaugural balls and now the National Mall is closed to the public due to threats of violence from groups who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, Reuters reported. 
 
Almost none of the public will witness firsthand the transition of power, souring the mood of Washingtonians.
 
“It’s like a ghost town but with soldiers,” said Dana O’Connor, who walked with her husband past concrete barriers near the White House on Sunday. “It’s eerie. It feels super unnatural.”
 
Reuters reported that previous inaugurations sometimes drew over a million spectators to the National Mall, to watch the ceremony from giant television screens and the new president parading on foot from the Capitol to the White House. 
 
Presidential inaugurations are normally high-security events, with metal detectors at key entry points, restricted ID-only zones and National Guard supplementing local and federal law enforcement. But the level of precautions this year is unprecedented.
 
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Sunday that law enforcement officials had no choice but to ramp up security after the deadly Capitol attack, where “so-called patriots would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers.”
 
“We don’t want to see fences. We definitely don’t want to see armed troops on our streets. But we do have to take a different posture,” Bowser said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
 
For a nation that has prided itself as a beacon for democracy around the world, the peaceful transition of power looks anything but, Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told Reuters.
 
“The world will see Biden sworn in, in the middle of a military camp that’s indistinguishable from the Green Zone,” Sabato said, referring to the fortress-like area of central Baghdad set up after the Iraq War.
 
Sabato has attended every inauguration since Richard Nixon’s second one in 1973, and Ronald Reagan’s 1985 swearing-in that was held indoors because of the bitter cold. But he won’t attend this one.
 
Reuters reported that the Secret Service has incorporated the term “Green Zone” into its inauguration security maps, and District of Columbia residents have started using the moniker for the vast restricted area running from two blocks east of the Capitol to the Potomac River west of the Lincoln Memorial.
 
The district, one of the most Democratic jurisdictions in the United States, voted 92 percent for Biden, making the current situation even more painful for many residents.
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